Questions about the blood evidence in the case of a former airman charged with causing the crash that killed a Lompoc couple in 2016 delayed the preliminary hearing as prosecutors seek a court order forcing Shaquille Lindsey to provide a DNA sample.
The case against the 25-year-old Georgia man returned to Lompoc Superior Court on Friday, where attorneys and Judge Raimundo Montes de Oca set new dates for a motion hearing and to complete the preliminary hearing.
It’s the latest twist surrounding the crash that killed Ruben and Bertha Betancourt and injured one of their sons in August 2016.
Lindsey is accused of speeding and crossing the double yellow lines while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol when the crash occurred on Santa Lucia Canyon Road near the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex.
Vandenberg Air Force Base personnel initially investigated the case and a federal grand jury indicted Lindsey, but a federal judge later tossed the case after the defense raised jurisdictional issues.
Weeks later, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Lindsey, leading to pair of assistant U.S. attorneys being sworn in as deputy district attorneys to continue prosecuting the case.
Lindsey has been charged with two felony counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one felony count of driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs causing injury. He also faces criminal enhancements for causing great bodily injury, according to the court complaint.
The preliminary hearing, to determine whether enough evidence exists for Lindsey to stand trial, began Jan. 11 before de Oca and was expected to finish Friday.
But questions about the blood sample drawn by Marian Regional Medical Center and tested by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System plus a defense-chosen lab led the prosecution team to file a motion asking the judge to order Lindsey to provide a DNA sample to resolve the dispute.
The defense, including his mom, Georgia attorney Stephanie Lindsey, and Santa Barbara attorney Kenneth Hamilton, contend that the blood type did not match the defendant’s.
Per the Air Force and a recent blood test, the defendant’s blood type is A positive, according to court documents. The blood sample reportedly was labeled as A negative.
Through his mom, Lindsey has declined to voluntarily provide the DNA sample, leading to the motion.
“Because the defendant is suggesting and arguing that blood tests by Marian Regional, the lab at AFMES and Forensic Toxicology Associates is not his, the People request this court order the defendant to provide his DNA so that this issue can be resolved,” Special Deputy District Attorney Joanna Curtis said in the court filing. “Given the serious nature of the charged offense which resulted in the deaths of two people and serious injury to a third, justice requires knowing whether the blood taken by Marian Regional belongs to the defendant so that the People can pursue the most serious and appropriate charges as to the defendant.”
On Friday morning, the judge set March 12 as the date for a hearing on the motion and ordered the defense to file a response to the DNA motion by Feb. 28 or supply the DNA sample soon after that date.
“We believe it’s in the interest of justice to continue the preliminary hearing until May 3,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola told the judge Friday morning.
Noting that it’s a “long time away,” de Oca approved the May 3 continuance and other dates.